India and Pakistan should play frequently: opines Wasim Akram

Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram believes the pressure of Ind-Pak matches help players to raise their game AFP

Mumbai: Sep 26, 2011

Former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram feels that India and Pakistan taking on each other on the sports field would prepare players from both the sides to handle pressure in the long run.

Akram who was taking part in a panel discussion along with ex Indian hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay also slammed teammate and fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar for his disparaging comments in his autobiography “Controversially Yours” against top Indian batsmen Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.

Akram, who represented his country in 104 Tests and 356 ODIs between 1985 and 2003, wanted India and Pakistan to engage in sports at all levels.

“We should have regular contests in all sports from the under 16, under 19 levels. India-Pakistan games are pressure games. Once a player knows to handle the pressure in these matches he can play against all other teams,” said the 45-year-old Akram.

About Akhtar’s comment on Tendulkar and Dravid, Akram joked that the former Pakistani pacer was lacking in brains.

“Batsmen of the calibre of Tendulkar and Dravid are not afraid of fast bowlers. At times they may just block a bowler like me to preserve their wickets,” he said.

Asked about the most memorable moments in his cricket career, Akram, one of the best-ever left-arm fast bowlers in the history of the game, singled out three instances.

“Our World Cup victory in 1992 (under Imran Khan), and the Test series victory over (hosts) India in 1987 (Pakistan’s maiden one) and our wins in India in 1999,” he said.

Pakistan defeated India at Chennai before the hosts avenged the defeat in Delhi in the two-Test rubber. In another Test immediately afterwards in Kolkata, part of the now defunct Asian Test Championship, the visitors vanquished the home team.

Akram singled out the overwhelming loss in the World Cup final of 1999 to Australia, in which he led his country, as his most forgettable moment.

Asked about the top batsmen he had bowled to, the Lahore-born Akram said there were quite a few.

“In the beginning there was (India’s) Sunil Gavaskar. Later there were Allan Border, Mark Taylor, the Waugh brothers (all Australians) and then (West Indian) Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and England’s Alec Stewart who I found difficult to bowl to,” he said.

Akram also said that over the last four or five years the Pakistan cricket team lacked “a proper role model”.

“They had Shoaib as one,” he remarked in a jocular vein.

Akram, a diabetic, said he was at first worried when he was diagnosed with the disease in 1987 but then after a two-month break to take treatment came back and took over 250 wickets each in both Tests and ODIs.(PTI)